Divided by blood. Destined by fate.
Emory is a shifter living on the edge. For years he's struggled with his Alpha nature. Then he meets the one woman capable of soothing the savage beast--Mary incites a carnal hunger that leaves him eager and burning. Sweet, kind and impossibly beautiful, Mary is everything he and his wolven half have been craving. Unfortunately, she's also something else, something dangerous--a Shepherd, bred of the line of hunters determined to destroy his kind.
Emory discovers earning Mary's trust is the least of his concerns. Her relatives want Mary back. If Emory won't hand her over, they'll do everything in their power to take her from the pack. As danger closes in, the passionate connection between them flares into a lascivious bond that refuses to be broken.
If Emory wants to keep his mate, he'll have to protect her--at any cost.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
April 19, 2012
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Excerpt from Enemy Mine by Aline Hunter
The stench of fire and death merged, the unappealing combination of scents burning like powdered red pepper in Emory Veznor's nose. Despite the smells, the wolf inside of him basked in the glory of the kill, reveling in the coppery taste of blood on his tongue. He lifted his head from the throat of his prey--noting the blank stare of the dead man who gazed at the midnight blue sky--before he studied the carnage around him.
His pack mates were tormenting two Shepherds, snapping at them with sharp teeth while issuing throaty growls. They rotated around the men in a slow, deliberate circle. The only human in the pack--Caden Stone--was to the far left of the group. He was busy reshaping the face of the Shepherd he'd tackled to the ground, punching him repeatedly in the nose. When the pack had attacked there had been six Shepherds ready to intercept them. That number was now down to three. Emory was tempted to join the brawl, to snap and snarl at the murderers he'd come to destroy, but that wasn't what he traveled hundreds of miles for.
Finally his journey was coming to an end.
He started the shift into his human form, aware his mate would only fear him if he came to her in his wolven state. Hell, she was already terrified of what he was. She'd been given a glimpse of what lingered beneath his skin once and it had sent her running. At the time he couldn't go to her to attempt to explain. He'd been too busy dodging buckshot from her bloodthirsty relatives and trying to escape their attention alive. They'd issued a challenge as he'd fled, threatening his mate and destroying any hope he'd had of making Mary understand who and what he was. Because of that he'd been forced to return to his pack in New York. Only running didn't help. Instead it brought danger to his door and destruction and loss to those he loved. So many lives had ended in an explosion the pack had never seen coming, bringing Emory to this moment.
Don't think about that now. Focus on who you came for.
He finished the change and swiped the back of his hand across his lips. The skin came away bloodied, the thick red smear vivid against his tanned knuckles. Not good. He'd have to clean his face at the very least before he sought out his mate. Going to Mary in this condition would only make things worse. She was too young and innocent to fully comprehend what he wanted from her. Time wasn't on his side but he was determined to do everything in his power to ease her into the transition, to help her accept their future together.
"She's not in the building, Emory."
Emory looked up and met his brother's gaze.
Trey had transformed into his human form as well but his bright golden eyes revealed he was in the grip of a fighter's bloodlust. It wasn't a shock. As the pack had traveled to the location where Mary lived--deep in Shepherd territory in Northern Colorado--Trey's control had been on the decline. The former Alpha mourned the deaths of his New York pack mates in the only way he understood--by tracking down those responsible and making them pay. His temper was thread thin and his desire to kill was off the charts. If it weren't for the presence of Gerald Night--the werewolf Alpha from the area--Trey probably would have disintegrated into madness. Trey was forced to play the part of a respectable Alpha to save face, even if everyone close to him knew that he'd lost the control necessary to properly guide the pack that had traveled with him to exact a revenge of their own.
Rising smoothly to his feet, Emory stared at the house in the distance. The front door was smashed in and he could see the shadows of wolves as they moved inside. Loud crashing noises drifted to his ears, a chilling melody of shattering glass and breaking wood. The noises indicated the wolves were demolishing everything in their path, as though they had picked up a scent and were searching for the source.
That meant someone was inside.
Emory took off at a dead run, blood pounding in his ears, fear and adrenaline flooding his system. Damn Trey and his short fucking fuse. Once upon a time his brother had been responsible. Now he was a ticking time bomb. The moment they had arrived Trey'd ordered the pack to surround the house and building at the back of the property and attack at his command. Not smart planning at all. More like reckless and stupid. Gerald had tried to talk sense into Trey but it hadn't worked. Not when the object of Trey's hatred was so prime for the taking.
Emory flew across the porch and into the house, drawing a lungful of air as he stepped inside. Panic caused his heart to slam into his throat. Mary's scent was present but fading. If she had been kept here the unique fragrance of lavender and linen would be stronger, easier to identify. His nose piloted him through the ransacked home until he came to the room where Mary's smell was strongest. Two of the pack wolves were at a closet, clawing and snarling at the wood barring their path to their prize.
"Stand back," he ordered, strode over and grasped the knob to open the door. The woman hiding inside was older, with her hair pulled into a bun. Although standing, her back was pressed against the wall, as though she could vanish into the plaster if she willed it so. She had cell phone against her ear, the glow from the light shining brightly across one side of her face.
"They're here. It's too late," she whispered hoarsely, her nearly black eyes focused on Emory. Her arm lowered as she dropped the phone and stomped on it, destroying the device.
Emory grasped the woman by the throat and pulled her from the closet. "Where is Mary? What the fuck have you done with her?"
She compressed her lips and remained silent. Emory growled and yanked her toward him, invading her personal space.
"Fast or slow." He lowered his voice and revealed the fangs he had allowed to elongate. "Tell me what I want to know or I'll make sure you suffer for hours. Either way, you will answer me."
"Go to hell where you belong, spawn of Satan." She spit in his face and struggled in his hold.
The wolf inside of him roared in fury and he had to hold back his animal instinct to lash out at the bitch and put her in her place. Fighting for control, he snarled, "Slow works for me."
He didn't wipe his face clean, turning instead and dragging the woman along with him. His pack mates moved out of his way as he stormed down the hall, walked through the living room and stepped onto the porch.
Trey stood where he'd left him, talking to pack members who had returned to their human form and restrained the Shepherds at their feet with rope. Emory couldn't stomach the idea of torturing the woman for the answers he needed--there was no way he could look Mary in the eye and tell her what he'd done--but Trey could. His brother, desperate for blood, would relish each and every second.
"She won't tell me where Mary is." Emory shoved the woman toward the group. "Make her."
Trey grasped the female by the forearm and flicked his wrist, and Emory forced himself not to wince when he heard a bone snap. She screamed in agony, her high-pitched wail echoing in the night.
"There are so many bones in the human body," Trey said menacingly and snagged her uninjured arm, "as thin and brittle as toothpicks."
Emory watched as Trey's fingers drifted down her arm and tightened around her wrist. His brother's knuckles turned white as he continued applying steady pressure, crushing the bones together. The woman's knees wobbled and she sagged to the ground, crying out.
"She's gone," she whimpered between ragged breaths. "She's been gone for weeks."
"Gone?" Emory lost control of his temper, dropped to his knees and wrapped his fingers around the woman's neck. He forced her to look him in the eye when he said, "You wouldn't let her leave, even if she wanted to." His hand shook as he dug his nails into her skin. "She'd better be in the same condition I left her in. If you hurt her, so help me..."
"You'll what?" the hag asked with a twinge of spite when he didn't finish. "Kill me?"
Emory took several deep breaths, barely holding the wolf back. The beast inside him lashed out, ordering him to leave the man behind and let the feral portion of him take over. It would be so easy to let his fangs descend, to clamp his teeth around the woman's throat. He'd bite down until he felt the hardness of bone against his incisors. Then he'd wait, holding her in place, making sure she died slowly. As she gagged he'd enjoy the rusty taste of her blood against his tongue, bask in her struggles as she grew weak and knew her time in this world was at an end. There would be no mercy killing, no fast snap of his jaws to ease her passing. He wouldn't break her neck and end her suffering. He'd make it last, draw it out, wrap the scent of death around him like a cozy blanket.
He could almost smell her death, taste her life's blood pulsing against his tongue. His skin started to burn and he felt the wolf come closer to the surface.
Back off, he ordered silently, reminding the animal within who was in charge. A sharp pounding in his temples aided him in moving away from the train of thought, to let go of the growing fury, allowing him to think clearly. Finding Mary is the most important thing. This bitch is nothing more than a means to that end.
"Where is she?" he repeated, striving for calm.
When she didn't respond Trey placed his hand over the woman's biceps and another loud crack followed. This time her scream was so long and loud it made Emory's ears ring. Tears streamed down her face and merged with the snot seeping along the crest of her upper lip. It sounded like she started choking but she didn't stop yelling as she begged.
"Stop, stop, please stop!"
"You want me to stop?" Trey lowered his face until he and the woman were at eye level. "Answer. His. Fucking. Question."
"I don't know if she's alive or dead." The panic and misery in her voice were genuine and her eyes were wide and horrified. "She ran."
"Ran where?" Trey snarled.
"Do you think she'd tell us where she was going?" After Trey took hold of her shoulder she added quickly, "She waited until she had an opportunity to escape and took it. She killed her own kin." The reminder seemed to bring the aging female out of her haze of pain, snapping her to attention.
Killed her kin? The Mary he knew wouldn't swat a fly.
What in the fuck happened since the last time I saw her?
The woman's eyes narrowed as he processed the information and she declared, "If she's not dead yet, she will be. When Elijah finds her, he'll kill her."